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tv   U.S. House of Representatives  CSPAN  August 4, 2010 10:00am-10:08am EDT

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not take effect, and a lot of people, i am one of them, are skeptical that they will take effect, we will be spending even more than that. this is pumping even more money into every -- into a very bloated section of our economy. who benefits from that? the president says he was taking on special interests to get this passed, but the health-care sector was behind this law almost 100% because it pumps applied on the surface and almost 780,000 gallons beneath the surface of the sea. dispersants work like detergents breaking up oil into smaller droplets which may end up suspended in the water column beneath the surface. while this massive application of dispersants was card out in the hopes of protecting the shoreline from oil slicks, it raises questions about the short and long-term impacts on the environment and unintended
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consequences. for example while dpe for scheduling today's hearing. i think this is significant on the use and impacts of the oil dispersants to mitigate the b.p. oil spill. following the tragic exxon valdez oil spill, the national contingency plan was updated to address new issues that might arise in the event of an oil spill of national significance. i remember that well. i remember being up there at the time, 20 years ago, when that happened. among other things the n.c.p. was to require a preapproved list of dispersants deemed safe for emergency use by the environmental protect agency. by creating a preapproved list, oil spill responders have an effective tool to fight the devastating effects of an oil spill. quickly and without bureaucratic delay. let me be clear nobody is advocating for the use of stated, quote, the
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light crude oil is biodegradable -- biodegrading quickly. we know that a significant amount of oil has dispersed and biodegraded by natural occurring bacteria. the current dispersant being used was formulated following the exxon valdez spill and approved by the e.p.a. for use in 1994. this dispersant is currently approved for use in 28 countries the gulf ups ecosystem. from the planningtons that form the base of the food chain on up to the apex species including the blue fin tuna and sperm whale. two types of chemical dispersant have been used in response to this spill. one was identified as highly toxic about one month into its use. when e.p.a. asked b.p. to identify less toxic alternatives, b.p. responded these were the most effective dispersants available and very little is known about the relative toxicity of
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alternatives. e.p.a. then took on the task to analyze the available alternatives. that analysis was completed yesterday. three months after the spill began. while this was a necessary undertaking, it is regrettable that this analysis was not available before the spill began. and we still know very little about the long-term ecological impact of usi on gare an set bay. remarkable what one will do for love. i look forward to a frank discussion about the consequences of dispersant use and how to improve the dispersant approval regime. we owe this to the commupets along the gulf coast, but we also owe it to all americans to assure them we are prepared the next time such a disaster strikes. again i thank my colleagues on the committee and the subcommittee. senator carper. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thanks to both of you. senator boxer for holding our hearing today. we want to thank our witnesses for coming today and for your testimony and your responses to
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our questions. i have mentioned before, try to start all these hearings on the subject just by expressing our heartfelt sorrow to those who have lost their loved ones, families that are suffering from the loss of their loved ones and this terrible accident, ando no time the long-term effects of this disaster. specifically, i look forward today to hearing more from our witnesses about the e.p.a.'s efforts to oversee the employment of chemical dispersants currently being used to clean up oil in the gulf. on the one hand our understanding is that the impact of oil on our shores would have been much greater without the dispersants. on the other hand, much is still unknown about the impact of these dispersants over the long-term health of our marine environment. i want to hear from our talented not be more urgent. close quote. the "wall street journal" on august 2 also quoted an e.p.a. statement that said that the agency, quote, believes
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dispersant use has been an essential tool in mitigating the spill's impact. and even admiral allen of the u.s. coast guard called this a legitimate alternative. he says a legitimate alternative to the dispersant has not surfaced yet. i would suggest that those who criticize the use of dispersants are the same people who cannot offer one alternative to the use of dispersants in this situation. they leave responders with a catch-22. either you're blamed for dumping chems ling. we have to do more thorough testing. in my state, new jersey, classifies one of the chemicals used in gulf dispersants as a serious health hazard because of its potential to cause cancer, liver, and kidney damage and reproductive problems. environm tradeoffs. the long-term effects on aquatic
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life are still significantly unknown. and b.p. has used over 1.8 million gallons of dispersant. a volume never before used in the united states. but what we do know right now is this. we aren't seeing dispersants and are monitoring results. thousands of samples both on shore and offshore. we are not seeing the dispersants away from the well head. thus far both monitoring data and modeling data shows the dispersants are not necessary. e.p.a.'s directed b.p. to monitor for indicators of environmental distress like increased toxicity to small organisms. to date we have not seen dissolved oxygen levels to approach levels of concern to e the goal of the unified command is to minimize that environmental damage and speed recovery of injured resoars. under the clean water act, the e.p.a. is required to repair and
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maintain the scheduled dispersants and other mitigating devices and substance that is may be used to carry out the national contingency plan. this plan requires regional response team of which noaa and the states participate. to plan and use -- plan a use for or nonuse of disanf fin fis shrimp, and oysters are analyzed for p.a.h.'s to determine the uptake of these p.a.h.'s present in oil by marine species. to date none of the seafood samples analyzed have concentration that is exceed noaa and f.d.a. clines. ensuring seafood reaching the corect 9527-a, repeated or excessive exposure may cause damage to kidney or liver, do not get a scan on clothing, do not take internally use with adequate ventilation, wear suitable

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